Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

A Novel

Book - 2009
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Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, this debut novel tells the heartwarming story of widower Henry Lee, his father, and his first love Keiko Okabe.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2009
Edition: Ballantine Trade pbk. ed
ISBN: 9780345505347
0345505344
Branch Call Number: Fiction For
Characteristics: 301 p. ; 21 cm

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r
RebelBelle13
Dec 10, 2018

DNF @ 45%. I almost made it the whole year without DNFing (Did-not-finish) a book. I decided that rather than slog through this story (which I believe has a rather predictable ending) I would call it quits, put it down and move on to something else I actually enjoyed. I couldn't bring myself to give this book a 1 star, even though I didn't finish it- because it's not TERRIBLE. It's just boring, repetitive and trying way too hard to be something that it's not. This story would have been fabulous as a novella or as part of a short story compilation. It feels too long and bloated for its own good, to be very honest. The emotions and feelings are there, but as the novel drags on and the same scenes are replayed over and over, it seems like the author is playing the same notes expecting the same responses. Yes, this child is bullied for being of Asian descent. His friend gets taken away to an internment camp because she's Japanese. The war is going on and there are foods being rationed, and fear is everywhere. This is all too true, and harsh, and accurate, but would have certainly been more poignant and powerful as a chord played once, rather than a child mangling a piano for five minutes.

IndyPL_SteveB Nov 26, 2018

This is a moving novel of American history, racial divides, and family.

In 1986, widower Henry Lee is standing in front of an abandoned Seattle hotel, when the new owner brings out a Japanese parasol, left behind from World War II. His memories flash back to 1942, when he was the only Chinese-American student in the white middle school and his best friend was Keiko, the only Japanese-American girl at that school. As Ford spins out his tale, Henry for the first time tells his son of his own family conflicts with his conservative father over his friendship with Keiko.

You will see World War II from an entirely different perspective than you have ever imagined it before. Of course the Japanese families were hated because of the war and were soon placed into what were essentially prison camps. But the Chinese families had nearly as much prejudice against them as Asians, even though the Chinese were our allies against the Japanese. Ford does an excellent job of portraying the complexities of these relationships and of the mixed emotions of sorrow and happiness.

It is the story of friendship, love, and relationships as told by a 50+ year old second-generation Chinese-American. This wonderful piece of historical fiction seamlessly flows between the 1940’s and 1986, as it delves into the effects, and the aftermath, of the Japanese internment in the Seattle area. Ford does an exceptional job of exploring the history and attitudes of the time, with unique insight into the generational and racial views surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbour, and the consequences of being a minority in a very American setting. Whether you are a sucker for great historical fiction, want a quick cultural history lesson, or one of those that remember the rollercoaster that is first love, book a room at the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and stay a while! (submitted by JF)

s
scribby
Jul 27, 2018

Heartbreaking (though heartwarming by the end) and relevant in today’s political climate. Also, great descriptions of local Seattle areas during different historical periods.

ArapahoeMarieC Jul 26, 2018

I loved this book! I have never read a book about plight of Japanese-American internees and Chinese-Americans during WWII and found this book engrossing!

a
ArapahoeLib_Marie
Jul 17, 2018

I loved this book! I have never read a book about plight of Japanese-American internees and Chinese-Americans during WWII and found this book engrossing!

f
firefly5
Jan 28, 2018

I loved this book, wonderful story. The author describes his characters and places so well I was able to 'see' them clearly! War has such devastating effects on so many people in so many different ways. Man's inhumanity to man! I have known many Canadians of Japanese decent who were treated as the enemy, as well as Canadians of other nationalities, mistreated because of their heritage and not accepted for who they are. History keeps repeating itself!

4
4catsdogs
Dec 07, 2017

What a wonderful book. I don't normally read books about relationships, but this one was beautifully written and had me absorbed from the very first page.

d
dbedn
Nov 02, 2017

This is one of the best books I have ever read, and I have read hundreds.

s
spiderfelt_0
Oct 17, 2017

While my bookclub couldn't find much to say about this book, I thought it provided an important history lesson. Considering the prejudice and hostility that threatens the daily lives of so many people, this book continues to be relevant. It was particularly interesting as a Seattle resident, recognizing the places described. Let us never forget the injustice that was perpetrated against our fellow citizens.

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blue_dog_8329
Oct 23, 2016

blue_dog_8329 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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hlsadler
Jun 19, 2012

hlsadler thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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r
results
Jul 02, 2013

This is a beautifully written book showing both the pain and beauty of love, music & friendship among the challenges of assimilation, discrimination and war.

h
hlsadler
Jun 19, 2012

A young Chinese-American boy befriends a Japanese-American girl who is displaced into a Japanese-American Interment camp.

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blue_dog_8329
Oct 23, 2016

"Thank you and you have a fine day sir" -Sheldon and Henry

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nic03red
Jan 23, 2011

The hardest choices in life aren't between what's right and what's wrong but between what's right and what's best.

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